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“When I was in primary school, I saw a neighbor training pigeons. He called them divers, because they used to fly very high and dive downwards. I liked the show and the buzz they made as they were heading down. A moment before they reached the pigeon house they opened their wings and slowed down. Some didn’t make it and got killed on the paved road”.
A pigeon trainer with a PhD
Costas Bouziotas, from Katerini, bought two pigeons for 10 drachmas, but they couldn’t dive. He was lucky however, when a diver from another pigeon house came and joined their flock. “I immediately started teaching it how to fly. I now had a diver too. I was like every other famous pigeon trainer. They might have had 100-200 divers whereas I only had one, but it was enough for me”.
Costas used to neglect his studies because of the pigeons, so his parents gave them all away. He then grew up and got into athletics, he spent 20 years in Sweden and England to become a trainer, got a doctorate and became a researcher, but he never forgot the pigeons. On his return to Greece, he brought 100 pigeons of a good race with him. Today he has 80 divers and 24 “arampatzides” (also known as “kourantines”) who make circles lowly around the pigeon house, daring the divers to go down. He also has a lot of “stisiarika”, which fly upwards, flapping their wings. They fly with their bums to the ground and their eyes looking upward.
ΤRassoulis wrote a song for him
Costas trains the pigeons so they can fly 1000 meters high and he gets sad when they are attacked by “sainia” (small hawks). “They come out of nowhere, usually “emerging” from the sun disk. Pigeons go blind by the dazzling light and aren’t able to see the hawks flying towards them, killing them in an instant. I feel sorry, but I can understand “sainia” need to survive too”.
Costas was a very close friend with the lyricist Manolis Rassoulis, who, when he saw how sad he gets about the pigeons’ death, he wrote him a song to comfort him: “Costas the pigeon man with his eighty pigeons/ has a pigeon that always flies to the stars/ Because of this the vulture was lurking/ he surrounds her with its black wings and she was hooting/ Costas the pigeon man for this pigeon/ he sits since then and sings and cries all day and night”.
TEXT-PHOTOS: GEORGE ZAFEIROPOULOS